Book Review: Dark Gods by TED Klein
My rating: 10 of 10 stars
What an amazing book. Why did the writer only wrote one book and two novellas? For what I know they were well received by the critics. Maybe he is lazy, like Wikipedia says he is.
Now you've got four stories in this anthology. Each one with, around 60/70 pages. Believe me when I say each story has a Lovecraftian theme or characteristic.
The first story is Children of the Kingdom. New York City blackout of 1977 is the setting. The sewers and ghettos of Manhattan conceal a race of faceless mutants connected to the Gnostic Gospels and MesoAmerican lore. Only the last pages brought a feeling of dread. The rest of the tale is the bulding but unfortunally it felt short.
The second story was Petey a tale about a haunted house. A couple have a party with some friends to show them their new big house and we start learning some of it's secrets. In the beginning I thought "-Unfortunally it ended way short. What?? Who was..? No, what? Darn time lost for a weak finale. I thought that it was missing a page somehow..." Now that I think back I thought it ended like the first. You really have to think about it. It's not those tales of horror or not that it ended, good or bad. No, here you have to think about it and draw a conclusion yourself. Nevertheless the weakest story of the bunch, nevertheless way better than most writers out there.
Black Man with a Horn the third story. Here not only has some Lovecraftian theme but also as a protagonist of some sorts. This tale is told in first person perspective. The writer even say that "There is something inherently conforting about the first person past tense. it conjures up visions of some deskbound narrator puffing comtemplatively upon a pipe amid the safety of his study, lost in tranquil recollection, seasoned but essentialy unscathed by whatever experience hes about to relate. its tense that says: "I am here to tell the tale. I lived through it."
Its a tale about a old writer, like many others out there than are told in the same way of what this writer says... "So this is what I was reduced to - a lifetime work shrugged ff by some blurb-writer as "Worthy of the Master Himself," the creations of my brain dismissed as mere pastiche. And the tales themselves, once singled out for such elaborate praise, were now simply - as if this were commendation enought - "Lovecraftian." Ah, Howard, your triumph was complete the moment your name became an adjective."
It's a funny because the writer creates a satire about the pastiche by creating one. Almost every horror writer knows Lovecraft. It's impossible not to know him. Most of our contemporaneous writers of horror have written something with a lovecratian theme. King, McCammon, Little, Lumley, Robert Howard, Ramsey, Frank Belknap Long, Charles L. Grant, Clark Ashtom Smith, Robert Bloch and many many others. So did they create something or merely copied? My belief is that they create. They use a theme to their purpose. What's so wrong about that? Any fantasy writer created anything after Tolkien? And even Tolkien created something or simply used Folklore and Myth Tales or even Lord Dunsany tales? Sci-fi? Any writer created something after Verne or HG Wells? I think so.
They use but create something new. That's life. Everything in life works that way.
Now the tale itself. A elderly man talks to a priest on his way back from Malasya where he learns of his discoviries of an ancient race living there that was the backbone inspiration of something Lovecraft created. Maybe the tales by Lovecraft were not merely fiction. Then the story change to a kind of detective tale and the ending was equal to many the master created. The unease - the unknown. Are we losing sanity to think things that are not really there? Excelent story.
Nadelman’s God is the last story and it ends with a BANG. Excelent. What are we? Our thoughts exist? Yes. So when I put something on paper does it exist? Yes. So what is written down is it real? Are we all creators? Gods? What are myths and legends and religion? Either based on a book or told from father to son. So what makes it more "real" than a horror writer creating a being and setting loose on a world? Excelent premises. Excelent execution. TED Klein should have written more because he is a excelent writer and creator.
Overall, the writing is similar to pulp fiction from the thirties. Some people will be upset with the characterization of black people. Don't forget that Racism always existed but in 1920/1930/1940 this kind of behavior was accepted.
The characterization of the main characters is at times lacking but wasn't Lovecraft doing the same? What's important is the tale. The horror behind. The atmosphere od fread and the sense that the story was moving to something that will make you crazy if you would understand it.
Would I advice this anthology? YES. Undoubtly YES. To anyone who wants to enter the horror genre or likes Lovecraft writing style but modernised.
This book will stay with me and I bet I will be reading it again after ten or twenty years.
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